It's not about the house.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Peacocks and Lilies

Johnny collects things. This, we knew.

Not just the things that can be had for three easy payments of $39.99, but other things. Anything, really. Things that might be normally considered trash. Which is not to say there is no overlap in those two categories. I, for one, have had to fight an impulse to hide in the attic and toss the Gunthy-Renker ménage out the dormer window straight into the garbage truck every week for going on thirteen years. But in the interest of marital harmony I concede that anything actively purchased for more than a hundred bucks can stay.

You see? I give, because I love.

The things that find their way from other people's curbs to my front yard, though, are a different story. Doors that don't fit any doorjamb in our house ("It's nice! Maybe we can shave it down!"), bundles of sticks they've cleaned out of their yards ("It's kindling! For the chimenea!"), sewing machines and related accoutrements ("It's easy! You ought to learn!"). Right now in my basement there are no fewer than four televisions of varying sizes and levels of usefulness, not one of them digital-ready -- not all of them cable-ready, for that matter -- and that's not counting the three working ones upstairs. I can't get him to understand that people give him televisions simply because he's willing to take them, and because you literally cannot throw them away.

Also a point of contention are the things we got brand-new but have since outlived their usefulness. The snowman mug that cracked before he used it; lids without their matching Tupperware; the solid clump of Hurricane mix we bought in New Orleans three years before Katrina was so much as a butterfly. And those are just the sorts of things that fit in drawers. Never mind the chair that can't hold a doll's weight without breaking, the rug that inexplicably scratches the floor, or the fact that Chuck (TFT) is still in the freaking driveway, despite the fact we've had Rose for three months.

But if I suggest tossing of these useless things, he sags and says "Are you going to get rid of me, when I can't work?" Tell me: how is a girl supposed to answer that?

Lately, it's been this old down comforter, one that's been spewing downy dust for years. Thin, bedraggled, and gone all snowstorm-gray, it can't possibly be much warmer than a sheet by now -- in fact, I know it's not, because he sleeps with another whole down comforter above it -- but he just can't bring himself to say goodbye. He's like goddamn Linus with this thing, I swear to god, only surrounded by a truly Pigpen-worthy cloud.

Last time I went down to Dr. One Friend's, though, he did ask me to go to Ikea and buy him a cover for it, so he could at least contain the last few flecks of down. I was so overcome by the idea of no more dust-ducklings beneath the furniture that it never occurred to me to ask what kind, and it was Dr. One Friend who suggested, while we were standing in the aisle, that he might want something other than plain white. And so I called.

"Dark green," he said. "Or else dark red. Unless you can get some Midwestern kind of print."

Well, now, that sounds interesting. And what might "Midwest print" mean, do you suppose? Gingham? Amber waves? Primary-colored, vaguely-Scandinavian-looking ladies, baking pies?

"You know," he said when I asked him. "Like that blanket we bought in New Mexico?"

Ah. It was Tucson, actually, but I got the point. Midwestern -- in terms of duvet covers bought by proxy at IKEA, anyway -- turns out to mean Southwestern, after all.

But they didn't have any Southwestern patterns. Nor did they have anything resembling dark green. They had one thing that I picked out as dark red, but Dr. One Friend said too bad it didn't look more masculine. I know my husband, though, and I knew that if I came home with plain white after I'd called and asked for his opinion, not only would I get The Look...

...but I would also get a guilt trip about how I called and asked and then bought what I wanted anyway, and how he never gets anything he really wants, and by the way why is it that Destructo only ever breaks his stuff? So, in the interest of marital harmony, I went with red. And then I had another bright idea.


Don't you hate people who can't make a simple purchase without a half-a-dozen cell-phone consultations?

"You know, Honey, they sell comforters here. In fact, they've got a decent one for $40. Do you want me to go ahead and grab one?"

Never mind we already have a dozen blankets besides the ones we actually use. I'm heading somewhere here, people. Stay with me.

"Ah... Sure." YEAH!!! "As long as they're not cheapy-cheap cheap."

"Oh, no. You mean all eye-stabby like that one we got at Job Lot?" Which is still up in the attic, by the way? "No, they're not. They're pretty nice."

"Yeah. All right, then. Yes."

"Okay. But..."

"I knew there was going to be a but!"

"Well, honey, the whole reason I'm buying this one is your old one's just no good. So, to be clear: when I get home with this new one, we're throwing the old one out."

"If I like it."

"Fine. Yes. If you like it. But we're not keeping both. If you won't use this one, then I'll return it. But if you do, we throw the old one out."




Heavy sigh. Extended silence.


"I never get to keep anything."

"I know, Honey. It sucks. I'll see you soon."

He didn't register an opinion on the comforter right away, but he certainly did on the cover that I chose.

"Hot pink," he said. "Lovely."

So the two of them sat in their packages for a while.

I wouldn't say it was a battle of wills, exactly. If Ikea were closer, or if I understood why people are willing to drive a hundred miles just to go there, I would have gone ahead and got my money back. But it isn't, and I don't, and so I didn't. But then one day I came home to this:

NOT hot pink.

And, although the old comforter was piled in a corner of the guest bed, I knew better than to simply throw it out. No matter what we'd previously agreed, Johnny's never been one to let a stranger shoot his dog.

There comes a point, though, when not shooting the damn thing's downright cruel.

So I decided to have nap in the guest bed yesterday, and while I was crawling in I accidentally kicked the old quilt to the floor, where it happened to land next to a whiny, non-metaphorical pooch. Whiny Real Pooch did what comes naturally to pooches as regarding surprise gifts from Blanket Heaven, and Johnny -- using his Extra Sensory Perception for Things I Don't Want Him to Know I Do -- moseyed in some thirty seconds later.

"Why is the dog lying on my comforter?"

"Because it's not your comforter anymore, Honey. Remember? You agreed that if you used the new one you would throw the old one out?"

His face fell so dramatically I actually felt bad.

"I get attached to things," he said, dejectedly. "You know?"

I know, honey. It sucks. For me and you.

Johnny collects things. This, I knew. But look what I found in my front yard this afternoon:

Does he have to be so literal about it?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Smooth Move

The good news is that Johnny officially quit smoking. Finally. For real. No more sneaking, no more porch, no more fighting about it, and no more pjs that smell like the dirty ashtrays on the kitchen table. After thirty-five years, all it took was a short stay in the hospital and two weeks of antibiotic-enforced sobriety – et voila!

The bad news, of course, is that Johnny started smoking again.

Last Monday, he had an eye doctor’s appointment. They gave him the make-you-blind drops, which he didn’t know they were going to do until they did it, so I had to change my plans to go and get him because he couldn’t see to get his own ass home. His pupils were all big, his face was weird and squinty, and I didn’t realize until after the yelling and screaming (me) and the storming out the door (him) that we weren’t actually fighting. My adrenals got their knickers in a Pavlovian twist just because he looked so mad, is all.

After that, though, it was his fault. For the next two days Johnny was the punchy one. Fidgety, crotchety, leaving static-y sparks of emotional electricity all over the house until my brain synapses wouldn’t fire and I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t know what was going on, but I tried my best to stay out of his way. If you don’t count the above (which I didn’t), we hadn’t had a real knock-down drag-out since before my mother died, and I thought if I could just keep my head down through these aftershocks of the Eye Drop Fiasco then our smooth streak might be able to continue. But no. Johnny had to keep on buzzing and popping and following me around, scuffing his feet on our charged carpet and zapping me on the back of my stiff neck

“What are you doing?”

I’m heating up a bowl of soup.

“Do you want to make me an apple pie?”

Um, no.

“Why not?”

Because I’m writing a blog, I just came out to heat up a bowl of soup.


“What are you doing?”

I’m taking my soup into the office to eat it while I work on my blog.

“This rug is really dirty, we should take it to the laundrymat!”

Um, no!

“Why not?”

Because I’m working on a blog. I just came out to heat up a bowl of soup.


“What are you doing?”

I’m eating soup and trying to write a blog!

“Why is it taking you so long? You’ve been working on that for days!”

Yes. Yes, I have. And golly gee, I can’t imagine why.

“Can I ask you a question?”

Um… no?

“Do you think you might be in a rut?”

Get out of my office.


It was Wednesday when things finally blew, and I think I lasted pretty admirably, considering. I’d decided to eat lunch in front of the television this time, and was looking forward to shutting off my brain for an hour with the Real World, when—

Yes, Dr. Drew, I will own my addiction: my name is Erin, and I have watched every season of the Real World. I’ve never let it interfere with work, though, so I don’t think I really have a problem. It does sometimes cause tension in my marriage – mainly because Johnny hates it and insists on making who’s-this-dipshit comments the entire time it’s on – but I avoid that pitfall by sneaking around. I watch it in the bedroom after he’s fallen asleep, or on demand when he’s otherwise engaged. So far I haven’t missed an episode in eighteen years, and even if I have to go on a weekend-marathon of a bender or speedball the occasional double-feature with a Real World/Road Rules Challenge, I’m capable of handling it fine.

This time I thought I was safe. Johnny seemed (blessedly) engrossed with something in the kitchen, so I dished up my whatever-I-was-having, snuck it in the living room, and turned the volume on the TV waaay down, hesitantly confident I’d be allowed to watch my seven strangers have their hissy fits in peace.




“Who’s this dipshit with the camera?”


Things were said. Rather loudly. By both of us. But he got the last word. Not because he had such witty repartee or a spit-polished argument, but because just as The Stupidest Statement Ever came tap-dancing from his mouth (it had a top hat and a cane and everything) there was a knock at the front door, and I was left flapping on the futon like a mentally-challenged wide-mouth bass.

“…and you wonder,” he said, “why I never want to spend any time with you.” Knock-knock-knock. “Excuse me.”

Why you never want to — excuse you? No, excuse me! Because haven’t you been on my tits since Monday? Haven’t I been begging you to leave my ass alone?

It was John B. at the door. And while the two of them went in the kitchen to talk about Important Things and Scratch Themselves, I seethed, watched The Real World, and choked down what was left of my lunch. And by the time I finished and brought in my empty bowl, Johnny was smoking. Right there! Just like that! In the kitchen! After swearing for the umpteenth time that he had really-no-for-real-I-mean-it-this-time quit! And he had the gall to share the blame with me, because when I asked him how long he'd been smoking and lying about it, he said "Ever since we had that row on Monday might."

Well, I showed him.

"'We' didn't have a row," I said.


"No. You did."

"I did. Oh. Okay."

Hey man, it made sense to me at the time.

Needlessly to say, things were slammed again. Loudly, repeatedly, and all over the house, but this time it was 100% me. I called him a liar. I said I didn’t care if he wanted to kill himself. I said all the things you’re supposed to say when you’re a 22-year-old narcissist looking for screen time and there are seven other strangers in the house who want it, too. But Johnny simply sat there, calmly smoking at the kitchen table, and I notched up the crazy each time I laid eyes on his nicotine-soothed calm.

John B. must have thought I was a loon, a freak, a wide-mouthed shrew. If I were him I would have left, quite frankly – and the fact he didn’t only served to nuts me more – but in retrospect I admire the stoic way with which he held his ground. Clamming up with a ten-yard stare whenever I came storming through, he'd pick up in mid-sentence again when I passed, as if he’d merely been on cosmic pause.

I couldn’t see any way out of my temper tantrum. Johnny wouldn’t react, John B. wouldn’t leave, and what was I going to do? Come in here and write about it? Sit back down on the couch? Grab the cats and light the house on fire?

So I left.

I stomped past the boys into the bedroom, changed out of sweatpants into jeans, and slipped on a pair of fuzzy Crocs. Then I stomped back out again (as well as one can stomp in a pair of fuzzy Crocs), threw open a kitchen window (to let out the smoke, but mostly to make a point), turned off the heat ('cause of the window, but mostly to make a point), and grabbed the keys. Thankfully I also had the wherewithal to grab my wallet, because I was only about a mile down the road when the idiot light came telling me I was almost out of gas.

I didn’t care. I drove and drove. No idea where I was going, I just went. I could run away, I thought, and I could go to the ocean. I could go to the country. I could go to the mountains. I could go to Israel, Africa, Afghanistan. Hell, I’m unemployed now, I could go straight to New Haven and move in with Dr. One Friend! So what if I wasn’t wearing underwear, or socks?

Except I didn’t. I still had enough rational brain-function to realize that it was snowing like the dickens, and I probably didn’t want to find myself a hundred miles from the AssVac when I finally drove away my angry-juice. So I traced a series of local figure-eights, never getting more than about ten miles from the house, until I finally had to stop for gas. I stood, shivering, while I pumped it, realizing with diamond clarity that I had also left the house without a bra.

Well, this severely limited my choices! No one at a bar, a restaurant or mall would know if I was wearing underpants, or care if I was wearing socks, but my rosebuds are no shrinking violets, if you catch my drift.

I’m not trying to come off all hubba-hubba when I say that, either. Honestly, I looked more Mother Jones than Maxim at the time. I had neither showered nor, if I’m remembering correctly, brushed my teeth; my jeans were dog-park dirty; my hair day-old style-waxy; and if there were such a thing as an ass-bra (which there ought to be, now that I think about it), even on my best day I'm a 42EEE. So I’m not trying to pat myself on the back when I talk about my rosebuds. But if I did, you’d know, is all I’m saying.

Maybe I would just go see a movie. You don’t need bras or underpants or socks to catch a flick. It would keep me out of the house long enough to cool my jets, and maybe even make Johnny worry where I was. Especially with the snowstorm, which was really coming down. He’d think I was dead by the side of the road, when really I was eating salty treats (diets be damned!) and bathing myself in the droll comic nostrum of Hugh Grant.

But then—

Ahem. I have to interrupt myself here to warn that, if you read on, you might just wind up with more information about me than you ever wanted to possess. And if you’ve been paying attention to this drivel so far, you know how low my disclosure bar is set. But even at the risk of spoiling a punchline, I want you all to rest assured that the end of this next paragraph is as far as it will go. There will be no backing-up. There will be no impact. And there will most certainly be no outcome of what I’m about to say. In exchange, you’re not allowed to see any correlation between it and my bloated response to the to-do in my kitchen. Dealio?

—just as I was pressing 1 to spell the name of the movie I’d like to see, I heard a rumble in my seat and recalled with sudden dread the laxative I took with breakfast. I’d planned it very carefully because I knew I had nowhere to go that afternoon, but in my self-righteous outburst I plumb forgot. I had to get my 42EEE back to the AssVac now, and it would go a long way towards maintaining the anal high ground – not to mention a wee drop of my dignity – if Johnny (and, not incidentally, John B.) didn’t have to be privy as to why.

So I called and told Johnny I was on my way home – letting him believe, if he would, that it was due to road conditions in the snow. I said I’d appreciate if he were gone when I arrived and he agreed in principle, but when I got there John B.’s truck was still out front. So I sat in the car having a straight-up Real-World style, euphemistic-set-jaw stand-off, and refusing to get out of the car till they came out. Which they did, in fifteen minutes, when I gave in to visceral panic and telephoned again.

The front porch smelled like smoke when I passed through it, but at least the kitchen didn’t anymore. The windows were closed, the heat turned back on to 65. Apparently someone, even if he hadn’t quite quit smoking after all, had at least seen the error of his house-stinky-uppy ways. I watched the end of my Real World episode (the bisexual guy is really GAY? No!), then called Dr. One Friend to mewl and puke.

In hashing it out with her, I had a revelation: the tension that the AssVac had snap-crackled with all week – the “Whatcha doin’?s” and “Let’s wash the rug!s” – was not, in fact, my husband’s true pain-in-the-ass colors shining through after two months of his being unnaturally nice to me while I got pooped on by the universe. It wasn’t an indication that I was going to have to divorce him after all. It was just a snowballing nicotine fit. He needed a cigarette and couldn’t say so, that was all.

By the time he came home from the pub, we were both sorry (not that we weren't to begin with, but you know). We agreed that he would smoke a little if he had to – if it meant saving our marriage, my writing schedule, or either of our states of mind – but only a few a day, and only in the yard or at the pub. And I think he’s sticking to it, too, although I wouldn't really know, because we also agreed I wouldn't ask about it anymore.

The peacekeeping accord worked well for about a week. But this past Sunday we had the exact same fight again. This time, though, the whole thing was flipped around: this time Johnny did the screaming (mostly) and throwing things (back) and storming out, which I sat still and placidly endured (not), all because he caught me scarfing down a bag of potato chips in the living room after I swore I was really-no-for-real-I-mean-it-this-time done with junk.

Boy, did he look like an uptight ass.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I'm a Beggar, Not a Chooser!

It’s like goddamn Armageddon around here!

I don’t mean the his-name-that-sat-on-him-was-Death-and-Hell-followed-with-him kind of non-italicized (but according to Microsoft still capitalized) Armageddon. I mean the movie.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Armageddon is a chick flick from the ’90s. It stars Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Liv Tyler as a family of -- what? Oh, I see. You think it’s a pseudo-scientific action picture about Our Heroes trying to deflect an asteroid from crashing into Earth along the lines of oh, let’s say Deep Impact? Nah. Trust me: it's a chick flick. I am a chick, and so I know.

See, it starts out your way, sure, but about three-quarters through it takes a hard left turn. Ben and Bruce are up in space, busy being Heroes and deflecting, when Something Really Bad Happens and the two of them have to thumb-wrestle (I'm pretty sure that's how it went) to decide which one will get to be the martyr-hero and which one will get to, you know, go home alive. Then all of a sudden it’s a movie about Liv (and her lips), stuck on terra firma with the knowledge that either her husband or her father is about to get sucked out into the void (the real void, that is, not the made-up, left-behind one) – and what the hell is she supposed to hope or pray for then?

It was like goddamn My Girl all over again! You think you’re watching a cute movie about a couple of kids and their adventures and then BAM with the bee-stings and from there on out it’s all shaking and crying and holding on to Dr. One Friend for dear life. I mean, Christ! You can’t ask a girl to choose between her husband and her daddy! Not that it was up to poor Liv (or her lips), but still. I shook and cried so hard for the last fifteen minutes, I couldn’t even see through my fluttering fingers which one of those cowboys made it home. Although my money’s on Ben Affleck. You do always want to end a chick flick with a smooch scene, after all.

Anyway, so here’s how this relates to my life this week (you should know by now that I can find a way to relate just about any random reference to my life, yes?):

Sometime – oh, maybe ten years ago – the guy Johnny was working with gave him a juicer. This is the type of guy who thinks he’s into health and wellness but is really killing himself by slow starvation while he treats his arthritic knees with bee stings and jumps on every stupid fad that comes along. Eat according to your blood type, colon cleanse, that sort of thing. He’ll swallow anything rumored to be Eastern, ancient, or homeopathic – cider vinegar, clay, hot stinging nettles – then gives himself daily coffee enemas to flush it out. He won’t see a doctor or take any prescription medication, yet he’s convinced it’s the mercury in his teeth that’s made him nuts.

He’s tried to talk Johnny into this crazy shit for years, and every so often it almost works. Johnny has brought home bottles of melatonin, jars of garlic balm, great whopping tubs of psyllium husk. I’ve eventually thrown them all away, and I’d like to think it was my voice of reason that prevailed, but I’m afraid the main thing keeping my slightly gullible (sh, don’t tell him I said that) husband’s conversion at bay is the fact that Johnny can’t even remember to take his blood pressure medication when going without it means his eyeballs will be doing loop-de-loops inside his skull. There’s just no way he’d get on a regular regimen of ingesting sundry crap that tastes like it got scraped off the bottom of a dirty fish tank. (Not that I know what the bottom of a dirty fish tank tastes like, but I’ve smelled Venice in September, so I’ve got a rough idea.)

When this guy offered him a juicer, though, I decided what the hell. Might as well let Johnny win one once in a while. It’s only juice, right? It’s fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables aren’t stupid, and they can’t do any harm. Plus, the Other Guy was paying for it, so when it made the inevitable migration to the attic to work in earnest on its mouse-poop-and-dust collection, well, then I wouldn’t have to wind up all pissed off. So yes. Fine. We got a juicer. And Johnny swears he even used it, too. Me, all I remember is one very chewy glass of suspiciously orange-looking apple juice (I refuse to believe anyone ever willingly drinks carrots), and that was waaaay back before the AssVac was even a Hershey bar.

So last summer, when my

Hang on, has it been three weeks yet? Yes. Yes, it has. Okay, then.

when my mom was having trouble eating, I asked Johnny if he’d brought that old juicer when we moved, and if he had, would he be willing to lend it to her if she thought that it might help. To be honest, I don’t think she ever wanted it. To be frank, I think she only agreed to take it to be nice. And to be blunt, I know for a fact she never used it, because when she died in December it was still in its box on the floor next to her bed, right where I had put it back in June. At some point in the middle there I probably should have offered to take it home and get it out of the way, but with all that was going on I’d forgotten it existed, and when I visited I didn’t even see it anymore.

And if I had forgotten it existed, well, there was just no hope for Dad. I love him dearly, but Poppo’s always been a little absent-minded. When I was in high school I had to remind him which of my friends was whom (“Lisa’s the redhead, Dad. Amy’s Korean.”), and I am so certain his “Oh, yeah?” at the mention of Gene’s name was fake that I will lick the bottom of a dirty fishtank if he can call up any memory of the year I lived with him at all. Of course, Dad does have better recall of his own, more recent events and acquaintances, so I guess the point is probably more that he doesn’t waste brain power on things that aren’t of immediate importance. And there was a lot of more immediate importance to my dad in December than the juicer in the box under Mom’s bed.

So in January, when Johnny went on the no-chew-food diet for his diverticulitis and thought the creaky old thing might at long last be of use, I can’t say I was completely shocked to find Dad had no earthly idea where it was. It pained me to watch him think about it; I begged him to forget I’d brought it up; but finally I watched it come to him, like the suspenseful opening of an alien egg-pod (and yes, I know, I’m mixing space-movie metaphors here, so? At least they’re both from chick flicks, anyway).

“There were two boxes...,” Dad remembered. “One was a pasta maker... the other one... must have been the juicer...”

Don’t ask me what the pasta maker was doing in Mom’s bedroom, but okay.

“One of them is on a shelf in the garage... and the other...”

...jumped out of the seed pod and grabbed my face.

“... I put on the rock in the front yard with a big sign saying ‘FREE.’”

Man, but did I wish I’d never asked!

Now, of course Dad offered to replace it, and of course that was the last thing I wanted him to have to do. But it was a big fat stupid awkward moment and I just wanted it to end, so after trying weakly to talk him out of it, I reminded him that Johnny has a birthday coming up. At least that way it would be less like I allowed Dad to replace it and more like I saved him having to come up with an idea. Besides, I thought maybe if we let a couple months pass without mentioning the juicer, they might both just absent-mindedly forget.


It just so happens that Johnny is a walking, talking weak-spot for a late-night infomercial. He buys, or wants me to buy, every goddamn kitchen gadget he sees offered at a low-low special price, and they’ve all been asking after the juicer since it went to live with Mom. His latest request was for something called a “Soda Stream,” which he begged for by saying he always wanted one as little boy but they were just too poor. Right. As if making your own Diet Coke was all the rage in 1960s Dublin. I said no, but I saved the website address that he’d scribbled in the dark, figuring I’d knuckle under if I didn’t have any more practical ideas by March 14th. Which is, as a matter of fact, why his birthday was already on my mind in early January, ripe to be plucked up and suggested to Dad.

Well, fresh off the Soda Stream rejection, Johnny started asking for the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer the very day I broke the news about the FREE sign and the rock. Truth be told? I suspect the infomercials played as big a part in his juicer-hanker as the GI distress in the first place, and I think he got a little step-right-up thrill when he discovered it was gone. I told him no. I told him we were poor. I told him it was stupid. I said he never even used the other one. I pissed him off with all of this but he stopped bringing it up, so I imagined the incident was blowing over. I even managed to convince myself the whole thing would make him that much happier to see whatever cheapo instrument my dad might buy.

Which logic I still believe makes sense, except I forgot two crucial things:

#1: My dad is not my mom. He is not willing to spend a thousand hours searching for the marked-down, off-brand, slightly irregular but still a very excellent value juicer in the broken box for twenty bucks. He does not consider a clearance sale a game of chicken with the universe. He just decides what he wants and buys it, usually on line, and usually right away, lest he forget.

#2: Johnny has a debit Mastercard.

I don’t know how I could have forgotten number two. Number two (and you may read that expression how you will) is the reason our attic looks like Ron Popeil's secret dungeon. So no, the merciful silence I’d heard from Johnny was not the end of the Great Juicer Storm of 2010, but just the pause before the Great Punch in the Eye. Because, light years before I learned that Jack LaLanne’s $89 Power Juicer was hurdling its inevitable way to the AssVac for the NASA-level shipping & handling fee of $25...

Dad took delivery on the $100, space-age-looking Breville BJE200XL.

One of them's got to play the martyr-hero, but I'm out. You guys are going to have to make the call. And when you do, you can just let me know. I’ll be right over here in the corner, shaking, crying, and licking the bottoms of whatever fish tanks I can find.

Oh, but if you’re working in a smooch scene, would you mind specifying that Our Hero will be played this week by Dirty Boy?

Only because Johnny has a nasty cold...

There now, see? So totally worth waiting for the picture. The first one, I mean. That's the one the internet wouldn't let me upload on Wednesday. The second one was just a bonus because I had more time to think about it. But you wouldn't have gotten it at all if I'd been able to post when I intended, so I think it worked out in the end, don't you? 

Ooh, speaking of end...

Hubba hubba.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

These Tubes Need an Enema!

I have a blog post done! I do! But the internet's all constipated!

It took me three days to write the damn thing, it's finally ready, and now stupid blogger won't let me upload the stupid picture that is the stupid punchline to the whole stupid thing!

Oh, sure, I could publish without it, but it would be nowhere near as funny. And trust me, I've been yawping into this yawning chasm for three years now, so excuse me but I think I know from funny.

As a matter of fact, while we wait for the internet's laxative to take effect, why don't I back up (so to speak) and take this opportunity to prove my yuck-yuck chops?


1. The first one. Paint colors and pills. It still stands up.

2. The Outie Show. Four boys and me in a tiny bedroom. How could it fail?

3. Sadie Hawk-up. Because it's coming 'round again! Plus, it reminds me of my mom.

4. There Will Be Tears. The election. I still love him, and I don't care what you say.

5. Jump Off the Roof, Maggie! Because which other post would you pick to represent the suck that was last year?

6. We Carry On. Because it's Teddy. And it's a different world since he's been gone.

Plus a bonus, because it's funny and because it popped up when I was on the hunt for #5!


Friday, February 5, 2010

A Tale of Two Pretties

Once upon a time, when I was young and beautiful...

... I had a job running props for the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Harvard Square.

Now, I can imagine what you're thinking. You're thinking: "RHPS is not a real job, it's not even a real play, and prop-girls aren't real cast-members, anyway."

Am I right?

Well, congratulations for speaking in verse, but I never! For your information, I was moving furniture in spike heels and a leather corset on an incline in the dark, so shut it. Even Ginger Rogers never had to work her shit that hard.

I did also have a real job, though, to (sort of, but not really) pay the bills. And how's this for a dichotomy? That real job was at a twee tourist shop in Faneuil Hall Marketplace called The Christmas Dove. By day I dusted Snow Babies and polished Jesuses galore, then at closing time I put on the black Kelly-Bundy shirt with the red "slut slut slut" all over it, and whored myself out in the name of truth in advertising.

Actually, that isn't true. I bought the slut shirt because the director of the show liked to tell people I was one, which was nice of her but not entirely the truth. Not then, at least. I can't vouch for my behavior when I left the show, but in my two years there I only dated two boys in the cast, and I only ever actually slept with #1...

... who turned out to be the director's sometime-boyfriend. Hm. In retrospect, that may explain the name-calling and rumor-mongering, but in my defense I didn't know it at the time. He was cute, and sweet, and very young, and we had a month or two of silly fun, kissing in stairwells and snogging behind the movie screen, until, in a fit of youthful indiscretion, I threw him over for boy #2.

Now, look, this time I know what you're thinking. But he told me that he wasn't gay, and I believed him. I mean, we worked at The Rocky Horror Picture Show for heaven's sake! There has never been a safer haven for coming out than that -- except for certain port cities, or ancient Greece, or maybe Minnesota airport bathrooms -- so why would he deny it if it were true? Yes, he was prancing around in fishnets and ladies underwear, but that's a costume, for god's sake. It comes with the part, you know. He was an actor.


Of course, the real point was this boy was freakin' hot. Ten pounds of gorgeous in a five-pound, fishnet bag. So when I said "It's too bad you're gay, because you're beautiful," and he said "Me? Gay? No, I'm not!" I pounced. And for a while, he pretended to pounce back.

I ditched Boy #1 (things were getting very messy with The Director by then, anyway) and moved into an apartment with Boy #2. An, ahem, two-bedroom apartment, thanks very much, where for the next six months every time I gave him the old howdy-sailor he turned twelve shades of green and ran away. I think once I even heard him shove his dresser up against his bedroom door.

We had fun anyway, him playing a dashing Rupert Everett to my Madonna (including the odd ugly falling out), and we made a mess of that shithole apartment. By the time he sat me down and gave me the "If there was going to be a girl, it would be you" speech, it was redundant. Then one day he moved out, and after that we gradually went our separate ways.

I pretty much started googling him as soon as I learned how, but in all these years I never managed to turn him up. I wasn't certain I was spelling his name right anymore, but every variation I could think of came up blank. I kind of worried about him, to be honest, although I'm not sure exactly why. I didn't think he would be dead or anything, I just... I guess I wanted him to be happy, and for somebody with his looks and personality, talent and theatrical aspirations, to have absolutely zero google presence seemed to me to be somehow sort of sad. No jobs? No website? Not so much as a headshot? Not even a facebook page, at least, Boy #2?

(Of course, if you happen to be married to me, then that's a different story. If you happen to be Johnny, then absolutely zero google presence makes you a 21st-century Man With No Name, which can be its own kind of freakin' hot.)

But then, out of the blue, Boy #1 found me in January. I'd never looked for him because a) I felt bad about how I'd treated him back then and wasn't sure he'd want to hear from me, and b) in the intervening years I appear to have killed off the brain cell responsible for holding onto his last name. Which is why, when he friended me -- in a spectacularly Senior Moment for someone of my tender age -- I had to ask him to remind me who he was.

Hey man, if you saw his profile picture you wouldn't recognize him, either! Plus, how was I supposed to know he grew up to become a puppeteer? Anyway, he looks even better than he did at nineteen, lives in New York, is happily engaged, and he accepted my apology with grace and charm. He's not in touch with many folks from back then, either, but he connected me with one, who found me a few others, until at long last I hooked up with Boy #2!

Well, not "hooked up" with. He does still have those theatrical aspirations, after all.

Turns out the reason I'd been coming up snake eyes googling his name for all those years is that he uses a different one now. It seems his real one was already taken when he joined, ahem, Actors Equity. He's toured Europe with a production of Rocky Horror, staged and starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch to much critical acclaim, and now has this band which is making the ramp-up rounds. I missed out on all of it, because I had no idea what he was calling himself these days -- and, okay, and maybe a little bit 'cause of that brain-cell thing.

I haven't mentioned Boy #1's real name because we haven't spoken since our initial how-de-do, and I'm not sure how he'd feel about me linking to him here. Puppeteering is not quite as "look-at-me!" as Angry-Inching, after all. Now that I think about it, though, without permission maybe I'd better keep Boy #2's name to myself as well. Not every manly-man likes the whole world knowing he kisses boys and tours Europe wearing ladies underwear.

So anyway #2 and I got together for a bunch of beers last night and--

God, Gene, I'm kidding! I can see that indignant expression on your face from here!

His professional name is Gene Dante, and you're going to want to write that sucker down. I promise you this boy is going to be famous someday -- even more famouser than he already is right now. Because he's brilliant, and talented, and kind, and caring, and still ten pounds of gorgeous only now it's tied up in a fancy Windsor knot. We really did drink a bunch of beers together last night, though, and you know what?

He said all the same things about me.

Except... hm... except the part about the gorgeous... 

Hey, Gene-Bone, you forgot to tell me I'm still gorgeous! Even if it isn't true, you're still supposed to say it to me! Jeez!